Game of Thrones fans will have to wait a little longer to find out how who ends up taking the Iron Throne. HBO has confirmed Game of Thrones season 8 will not air until 2019 and only be six episodes.
Rumors of a delayed final season started early in season 7. HBO programming president Casey Bloys told Entertainment Weekly,
"Yeah. [showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] have to write the episodes and figure out the production schedule. We'll have a better sense of that once they get further into the writing."
Though the delay for the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones will no doubt disappoint many fans, it's not entirely unexpected. Season seven, which has only seven episodes unlike previous seasons that all consisted of 10 episodes, was already delayed in terms of production-- resulting to its July premiere.
"One of the hallmarks of the show has been how cinematic is it. The show has proven that TV is every bit as impressive and in many cases more so, than film. What they're doing is monumental. When you see these battles in season 7, and what I imagine season 8 will be, it's a big, big show. We've done a lot of great shows, but this one combines the complex characters we love with a huge cinematic scope. I think this is the first show to prove that can be done -- and we're the first people to pay for it," Bloys explained.
Though the end is near for the HBO award-winning series, there have already been many discussions about a possible spin-off. It has even been reported that there are four spin-offs in the works though it's uncertain whether all or any of them will make it to air.
"I want to put the prequels in context," Bloys told EW. "It should go without saying I love having a show with this much intense interest around it. Even the smallest bit of information is a big deal and I appreciate that. But I wanted to make sure fans know this is a really embryonic process. I haven't even seen outlines. In the press at large, everybody said, 'there are four spinoffs' and they assume that means each one is happening and we're going to have a new Game of Thronesshow per quarter. That's not what's going on. The idea is not to do four shows. The bar set by [Benioff and Weiss] is so high that my hope is to get one show that lives up to it. Also, this is a long-term plan. Our No. 1 goal is the seventh season this summer and getting the eighth season written and aired."
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As for the challenge of working on four spin-offs at once, Bloys explains why it's possible to do it in a show like Game of Thrones.
"You couldn't do this with a lot of shows," he said. "In talking with the drama group here, and the nice thing is George has created an entire universe. The fact that there's enough material to even contemplate making different prequels is crazy when you think about it. George has all these histories he's thought about and that's one reason why the books are so good.
"The other reason, frankly, as I said, is the bar is so high. If you only developed one, everything would rest on that one shot. It's such a special show. I want to make sure that [any prequel] feels worthy. We have some amazing writers who want to take a shot at this. They're also looking at different times in the universe and all will have different feels. This increases our odds of finding one that's unique," he continued.
Game of Thrones season 8 premieres in 2019 on HBO.
Note: This article originally posted on June 4, 2017 and was updated January 4, 2018.
(Image courtesy of HBO)